When 2016 came around for the Minnesota Wild they found themselves in an all too familiar spot. They were on a fast decline in the standings and having an extremely hard time finding ways to win. In the month of January, they only won three games, going 3-7-3 to start of the new calendar year.
All of this up-and-down play by the Wild seemed all too familiar of last season and the question of whether or not head coach Mike Yeo would keep his job was up in the air. After losing eight straight games and 13 out of 14, the Wild went ahead a relieved coach Mike Yeo of his duties and named AHL coach John Torchetti as interim head coach.
This looked as though it could have been a great move for the organization. Torchetti is a very vocal coach who has won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010 as an assistant coach.
Torchetti also has spent time as an interim head coach in Florida with the Panthers and with the LA Kings.
He is constantly talking to his players after each shift; letting them know about the good, the bad, and ugly. Whereas Mike Yeo would sit behind the bench taking notes and rarely interact with his players. It was released by an MN Wild insider that Yeo had no control of his team. The locker room was divided and the team seemed like it had a bunch of separate groups, rather than one cohesive unit.
When John Torchetti stepped in for the Wild you could see the team had a different feel, they looked excited to be playing hockey again. Since coming in as interim head coach the team has gone 6-3 and have scored a copious amount of goals, but have still struggled some. Although this coaching change has put a new sense of life in the players, the team had dug themselves a large hole and it is going to be challenging to crawl out of.
The Wild have seem to found some magic with the Haula, Niederreiter and Pominville line, as they all have improved their play down the stretch, along with the Koivu, Parise and Coyle line.
This past Tuesday was a prime example as Haula, Pominville, Niederreiter and Coyle put in all of the goals in the Wild’s 6-3 win against Central Division foe and rival Colorado Avalanche by a score of 6-3. This win knocked Colorado out of the second wild card spot in the playoffs, being replaced by none other than the Wild. With only 16 games remaining for the Wild they will look to make that final push for the playoffs with the Avalanche lurking close behind.